RHB, Funding Societies tie-up to expand funding for underserved SMEs

Posted on : 12-04-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Banking Group has partnered with Funding Societies Malaysia, a regional peer-to-peer (P2P) financing platform, to expand funding opportunities for the underserved small and medium enterprise (SME) segment in the country.

In a statement here today, group managing director Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli said the group’s SME business had grown at a compound annual growth rate of 17% per annum from 2014-2016.

“As we continue to focus on growing our SME customer base, substantial energy and resources will be devoted to creating a differentiated and tailored value proposition for SME owners and their businesses as the SME sector form the backbone of the Malaysia’s economy,” he said.

About 97% of business enterprises in Malaysia are SMEs.
Khairussaleh said Funding Societies would provide a platform for the SMEs to borrow directly from investors while RHB would provide the former with transaction banking services, trustee services for investors and (Know Your Customer) services.

Under the partnership, the first collaboration between a Malaysian bank and a P2P financing platform, investors are given the opportunity to invest on the platform from as low as RM100.

Malaysian Trustees Bhd will also perform due diligence checks on the SMEs to verify the destination of the funds and ensure that they are being channelled for the right uses.

Funding Societies is one of only six licensed peer lending platforms in Malaysia that is recognised and regulated by the Securities Commission.

It has recorded returns of more than 10% to investors.

Between June 2015 and February 2017, Funding Societies has originated almost RM90mil across 400 deals in Singapore and Indonesia


iPay88 records 161% increase in online transactions last year

Posted on : 12-04-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: iPay88 Sdn Bhd recorded 38.2 million online transactions last year via its payment gateway systems, for a 161% increase, from the 14.6 million in 2015.

Executive director Lim Kok Hing said despite the perceived sluggish overall economy, there is solid evidence that Malaysians are purchasing from online platforms more than before.

“We would have thought that consumers are tightening belts due to a squeeze in their disposable income with the current economic ‘winter’.

“However, iPay88’s payment system proves that e-commerce and online purchases rose by 210% over the same comparable period,” he said in a statement.

This is in line with the company’s findings on Malaysian’s Online Buying Patterns, derived from the statistics collected via iPay88 payment gateway systems, which currently represents over 70% of the nation’s e-commerce market.

Lim attributed the high volume of online transactions to the convenience of shopping online, as well as the ability to get better deals on the Internet.

Meanwhile, in the first quarter 2017, Lim said online payments and transactional data in Malaysia showed no waning of interest on online purchases and spending trends.

“Among popular online purchases are apparel and footwear, accessories and jewellery, electronics and sports equipment, with each recorded sales of RM25.3mil, RM1.7mil, RM5.1mil and RM3.3mil respectively,” he added.

iPay88 is an NTT Data company and Malaysian-based leading provider of online payment service solutions within Asean.


Malaysia, Indonesia launch efforts to counter EU Palm Oil Resolution

Posted on : 12-04-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia and Malaysia will send a joint mission to meet with European Union officials next month, aiming to prevent the implementation of a parliamentary call to curb the use of palm oil, officials from the two countries said on Tuesday.

A resolution by the European Parliament last week called for the EU to phase out by 2020 the use of vegetable oils in biodiesel that are produced in an unsustainable way leading to deforestation. The resolution includes palm oil, an important commodity for Indonesia and Malaysia.

“We will do whatever we can to convince the European parliament and European countries not to implement it. We don’t want to think of the middle ground just yet, we will negotiate in full force,” Indonesia’s coordinating minister for economic affairs, Darmin Nasution told reporters.

The European parliament’s non-binding motion calls for a single Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) scheme for Europe-bound palm and other vegetable oil exports to ensure they are produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

“The joint mission will mainly convey the perspective of palm oil producers, especially to the European Parliament, that what is being said about palm oil is not true,” Nasution said, calling the resolution discriminatory.

Malaysia’s Plantation Industries and Commodities minister Mah Siew Keong, who met with Nasution in Jakarta, said the European resolution was unfair and could harm the livelihood of many small farmers in Malaysia.

Indonesia has been criticized by environmental groups for its forestry policy and for failing to stop the damaging haze that envelops much of the region each year due to forest burning to clear land for palm oil.

Nasution argues that palm oil is a highly productive crop that uses less land than rival vegetable oils such as soy oil.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top producers of palm oil, accounting for around 85% of global output, while EU countries are the second largest buyers for both countries after India.

Indonesia exported 4.37 million tonnes of palm oils to EU countries last year, according to data from the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki), while Malaysia exported 2.06 million tonnes of the commodity.


Kudat, Sabah’s latest tourism icon

Posted on : 12-04-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

Getting to know the Rungus ethnic community is the perfect introduction to Sabah’s northernmost district of Kudat and its array of tourism offerings.
Their unique traditional handicrafts and cultural dances aside, they are the only indigenous group in this state who dwell in longhouses.

Kudat is also known for its fresh seafood, as well as Tanjung Simpang Mengayau – dubbed the Tip of Borneo – which affords stunning views when the sun sets over the horizon, where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea.

About 80,000 to 100,000 domestic and international tourists visit Kudat annually, but the local tourism authorities are confident that visitor arrivals will swell once the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway is completed.

The project includes the RM2.5 billion 130-kilometre coastal highway from Tuaran to Kudat which, when completed in five years time, is expected to cut travelling time between Kota Kinabalu and Kudat by half to one and a half hours.

“We expect the new road to boost Kudat’s economy and tourism industry,” predicted Kudat district officer, Sapdin Ibrahim.

Speaking to reporters participating in the 2017 Sabah Media Tour from March 23 to 26, organised by the Information Department, he said preparations were already underway to build the necessary infrastructure and facilities to lure more tourists to the northern part of Sabah.

Kudat’s population comprises the Bajau Ubian (mostly fishermen living in the coastal areas), Rungus, Suluk, Murut and Dusun ethnic groups, besides the Chinese and Malay communities.

Usually, tourists make a beeline for the longhouses belonging to the Rungus, who are mostly farmers and make up 15 percent of Kudat’s population of 119,200.

Each longhouse represents an entire village, with each family allocated a room. At night, the parents and their daughters sleep inside the room while their sons sleep outdoors. The village head usually stays in the room right in the middle of the longhouse.

One of the doors at the longhouse is kept closed but in the event of a death, it is opened to allow the body to be carried out of the longhouse.

The Rungus natives collect one of Kudat’s best honey and are also skilled in the art of making crafts like beads and gongs, which are sought after by tourists.

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, a scenic sleepy hollow located about 25 km from Kudat town, is the pride of the people of Kudat as it is located at the tip of the island of Borneo, the third-largest island in the world.

Sapdin said any visit to Kudat would not be completed without a trip to Borneo’s northernmost point, also dubbed the Horn of Sabah.


Sabah first to launch policy on environment

Posted on : 12-04-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman launched the Sabah State Policy on the Environment during the 14th State Assembly Sitting here yesterday, making Sabah the first state to have initiated the formulation of the policy.

The policy outlines strategies and action plans based on five thematic aspects of the environment, namely land, air, water, biodiversity and social dimension.

To ensure effective implementation of the policy, the state government through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment has just completed 83 strategies and 195 action plans based on the thematic aspects.

The action plans for the Sabah State Policy on the Environment will be implemented for 15 years from 2018 to 2033.

The policy outlines three objectives, namely to provide a vision for environmental conditions and standards, an environmental framework for regulatory mechanisms, and guidance for all decision makers and implementing agencies in the execution of the mandates and duties.

The policy principles are based on clean air, healthy rivers and forests, productive land, bountiful seas and cohesive communities.

To ensure relevancy, the policy includes up-to-date global concepts and values such as a green economy, balanced production and consumption, preservation of environmental and cultural heritage, protection of biodiversity, participation in global efforts for carbon balancing and other aspects of good governance.

Musa said the state’s policy on the environment was an important landmark for Sabah in managing the environment and its natural resources.

“It is formulated to take into account the importance of environmental stewardship and for the state of Sabah to practise environmental governance. The formulation of the policy is timely for Sabah, in view of the necessities to improve environmental performance in all sectors of the state economy as well as the society.

“The state’s robust economic developments have depended closely on the utilisation of natural resources which has brought immense benefits to  society. Thus, the state government has continuously endeavoured to harmonise the escalating challenges in the management of the environment and the natural resources,” he said.

Musa added that the environmental problems faced today were increasingly complex and required a broader cross sectoral and societal response.

He said he was proud to announce that Sabah was the first state to have initiated the formulation of the State Environmental Policy after the National Policy on the Environment was adopted in 2002.

The processes of getting views and opinions from all stakeholders started as early as 2011 and the policy formulation process completed in 2014.

The state will continue to gear up as Sabah’s abundant natural resources and the environment are very delicate, thus requiring complete sets of strategic planning, management and implementation.

“The policy serves as guidance for our Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and other related ministries to carry out our respective responsibilities in managing the state’s natural resources and environmental affairs.”

With clear policy objectives, he urged all parties to work closely together to ensure successful implementation of the policy for the people of Sabah.

He congratulated the Environment Protection Department, an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment for the successful formulation of the timely policy.

“I note that the policy will form as catalyst to make the state of Sabah a liveable state based on its strategic location, high diversity natural resources, cultures and heritage of the people and a clean and healthy environment,” Musa said.